There is a wide variety of results from different studies on tinnitus treatment. In our study, male patients constituted 51.9% and 48.1% of the subjects in the case and control groups, respectively. In the study of Renta Fransson et al. more than 60% of patients were female.14
According to the latest scientific results, tinnitus incidence is roughly equal in men and women.2
While Renata Fransson et al. reported the mean age of patients in the case and control groups to be 55 and 57 years, respectively,14
the corresponding figures were 45.6 and 49.2 in the present study. Anxiety and depression are common in tinnitus patients and there is a mutual relation between tinnitus and anxiety or depression. All individuals in this study were evaluated for depression and anxiety according to HADS. Nevertheless, since the distribution of patients with the mentioned problems has been nearly equal in the case and control groups, there would depression and anxiety would not affect the results of the study.
The mean of tinnitus severity index before the beginning of the study in did not significantly differ in the two groups. However, after 5 sessions of treatment by acupuncture, tinnitus severity index in the case group was decreased. An improvement of quality of life was also observed in this group. On the contrary, 5 sessions of treatment did not significantly reduce tinnitus severity index in the control group. In a study by Hansen et al., the symptoms considerably improved in both control and case groups after 6 sessions of acupuncture which undermines the hypothesis of acupuncture being effective in improving tinnitus severity.9
Marks et al. reported only a partial improvement in the control group after 2 sessions of treatment by acupuncture which was not confirmed by objective tests. In addition, they did not find a significant difference between pre- and post-treatment states.15
Podoshin et al. compared the treatment effects of acupuncture, cetirizine and biofeedback after 10 sessions of treatment. Although they declared the three methods to be 30%, 10% and 50% effective, respectively, but there was not any considerable treatment objectively.16
In the study of Axelsson et al. acupunctured the patients 3 times a week for 5 weeks. They stimulated the control group by electrical pulses to arise a false sense of needle punctures in these patients. The study results showed no significant improvement of tinnitus, although a little improvement was observed in general conditions of the patients.17
In a study conducted by Wang K et al., the results after 6 sessions of treatment indicated no statistically significant difference between the effects of manual and electrical acupuncture on tinnitus treatment efficacy.18
Latifpour et al. observed a great decrease of tinnitus using acupuncture accompanied with somatosensory stimulation.19
Ji and Fang reported acupuncture to have a 60 to 80% success in tinnitus treatment.20
In our study, after 5 sessions of treatment, tinnitus loudness/severity in the case group decreased significantly which suggests the effectiveness of the treatment. The decrease in tinnitus loudness/severity among the patients of the control group was not significant. In Marks et al. performed two sessions of acupuncture and noticed a statistically insignificant change in sound loudness in both groups.15
Vilhom et al. studied 54 patients who have been suffering tinnitus for at least 6 years. They were treated by 25 sessions of acupuncture and a minimal change in all parameters was seen. They found a 4% change in tinnitus loudness in the case group and no difference in the control group.21
Furugard et al. evaluated the treatment by NHP profile in which a considerable improvement was seen in tinnitus loudness/severity and patient's quality of life of the case group compared with the control group. However, the control group (recieving physiotherapical treatment) did not show a considerable improvement.22
In a systematic review of 6 studies in 2000 by Park et al., four studies reported acupuncture ineffective for treatment of tinnitus while the other two declared the effectiveness of this treatment method.23
Although previous studies are quite controversial about the efficacy of acupuncture as a therapeutic modality for tinnitus, the present study revealed that after only 5 sessions of acupuncture, the tinnitus severity index and tinnitus loudness grade decreased considerably in comparison with the control group patients. Some previous studies indicated acupuncture ineffective in treatment of tinnitus because the researchers used constant acupoints for all patients. Moreover, some others did not divide their patients according to subtypes of tinnitus (subjective or objective). In our study however, due to the selective treatment based on diagnostic pattern of TCM, the treatment was performed more effectively, because the therapist selected a proper plan of acupuncture for each patient individually.